Tilapia: Soon to be the world’s most popular farmed fish?
From an interview with Professor Abel-Fattach El-Sayed with Vaughn Entwistle, Managing Editor, International Aquafeed
Biographical note: Professor Abdel-Fattah El-Sayed received his PhD in aquaculture (Tilapia Nutrition) from Michigan State University, USA in 1987. He is currently a full professor at the Oceanography Department, Faculty of Science, Alexandria University, Egypt.
Do you think tilapia will eventually rank as the number one most popular species amongst farmed fish?
If you look at the growth rates over the last few decades, you will have your answer. Tilapia is the fastest growing farmed fish and is now grown in over 125 countries. I believe that, very soon in this century, tilapia will be the number one most grown species.
Why in some countries does tilapia have a questionable reputation?
Because of widespread misperceptions. Some people, with no idea of science, think tilapia is a junk fish that eats human waste and slaughtered animals' viscera. Others think that tilapia is a genetically engineered fish. All of this is completely false. Unfortunately, if you look on the internet you will come across blogs spreading this misinformation.
Tilapia is an easy-going fish that is not very expensive to grow. The quality of the fish is good. From my research I have found that tilapia has 60 percent protein, and about 20 percent fat. Some of the bad publicity around the fish comes from misinformation spread by people who are growing competing fish.
The USA is the largest importer of tilapia in the world. They import over 180,000 tonnes of tilapia-per-year from more than 30 countries, but mainly from China. In the USA they are near to the top of the table of foods that Americans prefer. A few years ago, tilapia was number seven of preferred fish, but now they are number five.
What is your vision for the future of tilapia?
In my book 'Tilapia Culture', which had its first edition published in 2006, I predicted that countries like Brazil, Mexico, India, and Pakistan would be key players in the future. Brazil is now number five.
Back then, they were producing less than 70,000 tonnes; now they are producing over 300,000 tonnes. Mexico is close to producing over 50,000 tonnes a year, so I still believe that these Latin American countries will be major producers of tilapia in the near future. Bangladesh is now number four and India is growing with huge momentum.
Sub Saharan African countries, with support from initiatives such as Perendale's Aquaculture without Frontiers, is also growing rapidly and they have fewer problems with water supplies than Egypt.
Do you think tilapia offers a different opportunity for land-locked countries, as they are a fresh water fish?
Tilapia can be grown in brackish water, but the fish expend more energy, whereas they grow better in fresh water. Many South Asian and Eastern European countries, where they have traditionally favoured carp, are now switching to tilapia.
The same is true for Indonesia and China who are now transitioning to tilapia, especially now with new fast growing strains with different colours. The species is very easy to grow, which is one of the most important factors.
Tilapia Culture, second edition
Abdel-Fattah M. El-Sayed
Creates an understanding of the current global state, production, farming technologies, and future potential of major cultured tilapia species.
Tilapia Culture, Second Edition offers a detailed description of the principles and practices of tilapia culture in the world. It covers all of the vital issues of farmed tilapia including the biology, environmental requirements, semi-intensive culture, intensive culture systems, nutrition and feeding, reproduction, seed production and larval rearing, stress and diseases, harvesting, economics, trade, and marketing, the role of tilapia culture in rural development and poverty eradication, and technological innovations in and environmental impacts of tilapia culture. It also highlights and presents the experiences of leading countries in tilapia culture.
The new second edition not only brings the most updated information within each chapter, but also delivers new content on tilapia transfers and introductions and their impacts, the use of probiotics and other additives in tilapia culture, tilapia trade including marketing, and sustainability approaches and practices, such as best management practices, ecosystem approach to tilapia culture, and value chain analysis of tilapia farming. Tilapia farmers and researchers will greatly benefit from the book's overview of the most relevant research and information on tilapia culture.
- Presents biology of tilapia, including taxonomy, body shapes, geographical distribution, introductions and transfers, gut morphology, and feeding habits
- Covers semi-intensive tilapia culture in earthen ponds and their intensive culture in earthen ponds, tanks, raceways, cages, recirculating systems, and aquaponics
- Provides the latest information on broodstock management, production of monosex tilapia, seed production, and larval rearing under different culture systems
- Highlights the most common infectious and non-infectious diseases affecting farmed tilapia, with a full description of disease symptoms and treatment measure
- Provides an in-depth exploration of tilapia economics, trade and marketing